An out of form Wingate & Finchley crashed to a 1-0 defeat to Ryman Premier Division rivals Hendon in their derby match at Summers Lane.
In a relatively uneventful first half, both teams had equal opportunities, although the visitors dominated possession. Wingate’s forwards linked up well but were unable to create a clear cut opportunity.
Jack Hutchinson had a half-chance from just inside the area, and Andre Scarlett went for goal from 25 yards out. Both chances were well saved by Hendon keeper, Berkley Laurencin.
At the other end, Isaiah Rankin had two good chances but just couldn’t master the angle as his first shot was saved by the alert Wingate keeper Bobby Smith and his second hit the side netting.
As the teams went in at half-time, both managers would have been positive about their prospects of taking all three points.
Each team had chances in the first ten minutes of the second half. Rankin, for Hendon, found himself with space on the right side of the area, although he was again foiled by Smith. For Wingate, a good cross from Daniel Nielsen was missed by Laurencin; however the ball went agonisingly across the face of the goal, with no Wingate player there to meet it.
Events finally livened up in the 68th minute although for all the wrong reasons. After a seemingly menial foul, a mass brawl broke out. Hendon captain Scott Cousins appeared to punch Wingate’s Andre Scarlett, who responded by headbutting Cousins. This resulted in Scarlett’s immediate sending off.
With Wingate down to ten men, Hendon began to exert pressure. Dean Cracknell’s piledriver was athletically stopped by Smith, and then Casey Maclaren made a mess out of a good chance from just 15 yards out.
However in the end, Hendon’s pressure paid off in the 89th minute. After a goalmouth scramble Wingate’s Scott Shulton punched the ball off the goalline. This resulted in a penalty and Shulton’s dismissal. The penalty was duly converted by Julian Owusu-Bekoe. Hendon held out and clinched an important three points.
Wingate manager Gary Meakin said: "I couldn’t ask any more of the players, we just didn’t get the rub of the green."
Regarding Scarlett’s sending off, he commented: "Everyone in the ground saw what happened. I can’t condone what Andre did, but it wouldn’t have happened if the referee had dealt with the initial incident."
Wingate host Hastings this weekend while Hendon visit Bury Town.